Kobe Brown had 20 and 23 and Kaleb Brown scored his first points for Missouri as the Tigers cruised to victory over an NAIA opponent
Missouri welcomed Paul Quinn College, an NAIA school and HBCU, to Mizzou Arena on Monday night for a game that figured to serve as merely a formal exhibition for both sides, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be as Missouri emerged victorious, 91-59.
The game doesn’t even count count against Paul Quinn’s record, and they seemed to be playing with nothing to lose early in the game as they kept it close for a good chunk of the first half, even taking a 10-9 lead with 12 minutes to play.
However, that momentary lead seemed to be the reality check Missouri needed as they finally shifted out of cruise control. The Tigers closed the half on a 24-5 run and led 42-19 at intermission all but making the second half of the game a formality.
As he has all year, Kobe Brown did everything for the Tigers, ending up with 20 points, 6 assists and 23 boards. Yes, you read that right… 23 rebounds. Brown led the way for the Tigers in each of those categories and finished with a +45 plus-minus.
“He’s a guy that just plays basketball. It’s not a case where I need to score the ball, get my shots,” Cuonzo Martin explained about his star player’s performance. “He plays basketball. I’ll get rebounds. I’ll find the open guy. I’ll try to defend. I’ll try to communicate on both sides of the basketball. He’s that type of guy.”
“He’s been our best player since the season started,” DaJuan Gordon added about Brown. “Just seeing him play better makes everyone else step up.”
That effect Gordon mentioned was on full display as he finished with 17 points of his own, while Amari Davis and Javon Pickett added 14 and 12, respectively, to give the Tigers four players in double figures.
Ronnie DeGray III, who started his first game of the year, also made a solid contribution with 7 points and 8 rebounds.
However, this game was always supposed to be about seeing if the regular rotation could do their job well enough to let their less experienced counterparts get some game time, but Paul Quinn College didn’t want to play along.
The visiting Tigers came out hot in the second half shooting 47%, and stuck around just enough to make it difficult for Cuonzo Martin to go to his bench early in the half.
However, the Tigers were able to slow down the Paul Quinn offense eventually, and every available Missouri Tiger saw game time except for Jordan Wilmore, who Cuonzo Martin said, “There’s just some things I need to see him get better at.” Trevon Brazile, meanwhile, continues to work his way back after recently being cleared medically.
Despite not being able to turn to his bench earlier, Martin was still proud of his team’s performance, “I’ve never been concerned with the opponents. Wins are hard to come by,” he said. “You never know when you’ll get your next, and we’ll always applaud and appreciate it but there are also things that you want to correct when you look at your game film.”
Of the freshmen’s limited run, Sean Durugordon made the strongest impression with 6 points and 3 rebounds in his four minutes, while Yaya Keita and Anton Brookshire, the only two normally in the rotation, battled foul trouble.
To polish off a memorable night for the Brown family as a whole, Kaleb Brown, Kobe’s freshman brother, scored the first points of his Missouri career. “It was definitely a proud moment, I was happy to see him get that,” the elder Brown said. “I know he works for it, so I was happy.” Martin also added he could see the younger Brown joining the normal rotation as the Tigers’ season progresses.